This past Tuesday the people of Ohio voted against legalizing recreational and medicinal marijuana for an amendment to the state’s constitution, shooting down a proposal to allow a minimal amount of wealthy investors sole permission to run commercial pot farms.
“The people of Ohio have understandably rejected a deeply flawed, monopolistic approach to marijuana reform that failed to garner broad support from advocates or industry leaders,” National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith said in a statement after Tuesday’s vote. Now the foundation has been laid for a potential 2016 effort that would put forward a more common-sense initiative and have a major impact on the presidential conversation in the process.”
The amendment needed in order to allow people who had the proper license to possess, cultivate, share and harvest up to a half pound of marijuana swell as four cannabis plants within the state. Additionally, the law would have granted any individual over the age of 21 without a license to possess up to 28 grams of cannabis, and would have allowed individuals with a physician-certified medical condition to use medical marijuana.
The Ohio proposal was something different from policies passed in other states, such as Colorado and Washington, by building 10 Marijuana Growth, Cultivation and Extraction compounds that would have had exclusive rights to cultivate marijuana for commercial purposes. The designated farms were supported by a number of notable Ohioans, including boy band star Nick Lachey, fashion designer Nanette Lepore and not mention an NBA legend, Oscar Robertson.
The owners of each MGCE facility funded the attempt to go legal — as the Washington Post documented, each MGCE’s investors were asked to put up $4 million to assist in funding ResponsibleOhio, the group backing the Yes on 3 effort.
This unusual condition of the amendment gave legalization advocates pause, as it would have put the state’s entire marijuana industry in the hands of a couple of wealthy individuals. They also made a case for the possible financial windfall in correlation with legal marijuana: In reference to the group’s estimates, the marijuana industry could rake in over a half a billion dollars in tax revenue every year by 2020.
“That money could be in the hands of local governments and small businesses instead of drug dealers,” spokesperson Lydia Bolander stated. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition made a similar case in favor of Issue 3.
“Legalization will take money away from the cartels, provide funding for public safety and health services, and reduce the violence associated with the illegal drug market,” retired Cincinnati Police Captain Howard Rahtz said in a statement for LEAP. “Passage of Issue Three puts us in charge, not the dealers”
Issue 3 was accompanied on the ballot by Issue 2, a competing measure that would not allow creating monopolies or granting special privileges via a constitutional amendment, therefore standing in the way of the marijuana amendment from going into effect.
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